CSTA Classroom Science

Empowering Every Student: Supporting All Learners for CAST Success

By David Tupper, CASE Middle School/Jr. High Director/NGSS Committee Co-Chair

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As science educators, our mission is not just to teach but to inspire, engage, and empower every student to thrive in an ever-evolving world. With the forthcoming inclusion of science as a metric on the “Dashboard”, the California Science Test (CAST) is now an increasingly important element of this mission as we work to gauge students' facility with the Next Generation Science Standards. Recognizing the need for comprehensive support in this area, the California Association of Science Educators (CASE) NGSS Committee was excited to present a three-part webinar series, "Empowering Every Student: How Do I Support All My Learners for CAST?"

This webinar series aimed to equip educators with the knowledge, tools, and strategies necessary to ensure all students succeed in the CAST. By engaging deeply with the NGSS Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs) in our daily teaching, we prepare students not just for the test, but for a lifetime of scientific inquiry and understanding. As one middle school teacher mentioned, “If I’m doing what’s right in the classroom, like teaching 3-dimensional, that should translate into students being more successful on the CAST.” 

Here’s a closer look at the content of each of the three sessions:

Session 1: Understanding the CAST Assessment Design

The first session delved into the intricacies of the CAST assessment design. By exploring a variety of tools, resources, and sample assessment structures, educators can enhance their students' success in the CAST. Participants will:

  • Gain a deeper understanding of the CAST's format and expectations.
  • Explore tools and resources that help demystify the assessment for both teachers and students.
  • Familiarize themselves with the Interim Assessment Viewing System for Science, a vital resource for understanding and navigating the CAST environment.

Understanding the test's structure is crucial, but it’s equally important to integrate these insights into everyday teaching. By routinely engaging students in SEPs, we help students to become  naturally more adept at tackling the kinds of tasks and challenges presented by the CAST. The first time students engage in the practice of science should not be on the CAST.

Session 2: Analyzing Student Assessment Data

The second session focused on using student assessment data to inform instructional practices. Effective data analysis protocols can significantly enhance learning outcomes by identifying areas of need and guiding targeted interventions. In this session, educators:

  • Reviewed protocols for analyzing student data to track learning progress and instructional needs.
  • Identified or were exposed to resources that enhance accessibility and promote high-quality teaching and learning.
  • Explored instructional resources within the Tools for Teachers framework, enriching teaching practices and ensuring that instruction is both inclusive and effective.

This session emphasized the importance of reflective teaching. By continually assessing and adjusting our methods based on data, we help to ensure that every student receives the support they need to excel.

Session 3: Utilizing Interim Assessments for Instructional Strategies

The final session in the series focused on the practical application of Interim Assessments (IAs) to inform instructional strategies. These assessments are not just evaluative tools but are also integral to formative teaching practices. Participants learned how they might:

  • Use science performance tasks formatively and access resources that support instruction.
  • Identify effective methods for collecting formative data from both IAs and performance tasks.
  • Adapt teaching and learning approaches based on this data to meet students' needs more effectively.

By using IAs and performance tasks strategically, educators can create a responsive learning environment that continually adapts to the evolving needs of students. This proactive approach ensures that students are not only “test-ready” but also deeply engaged in their scientific learning journey.

The CASE Advantage

Being a member of CASE provides educators with a wealth of resources and a supportive community dedicated to excellence in science education. The benefits extend beyond the webinar series, offering continuous professional development opportunities, access to cutting-edge educational resources, and a platform for collaboration and innovation.

Moreover, CASE members are invited to a short course at the November CASE Conference in Sacramento. This course will build on the webinar series, revisiting key points and providing collaborative work time to revise or modify formative assessments. Participants will also have some time to begin developing a department or site action plan, ensuring that the insights gained are translated into practical, impactful teaching strategies.


Preparing students for the CAST is about more than just understanding a test—it’s about embedding a culture of scientific inquiry and excellence in our classrooms. By consistently engaging students in the NGSS Science and Engineering Practices, we prepare them not just for a test, but for the challenges and opportunities of the future.

Join us in this transformative journey. Empower your teaching, inspire your students, and ensure every learner thrives. Through the collective strength and resources of the CASE community, we can achieve extraordinary outcomes for our students. Register for the conference today and take the next step towards empowering every student for CAST success.




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